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09-02-2010, 02:17 AM   #1
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Recommendation for a friend: K7 versus Nikon D90

I kinda feel like I'm letting down the side here, but a friend of mine here in China is looking to buy a DSLR.

She was quite happy with her Canon G10, but after seeing some portraits I took with my K10d + SMC Tak 50/1.4 she decided she wanted to upgrade her equipment and her skills/knowledge.

After thinking on it for a while, I recently recommended she go and buy a Nikon D90 rather than a K7. She's in no rush to buy, and I'm still thinking on it; figured I'd ask y'all for your input as well.

Here's my reasoning (sorry for the long post):


ISO Performance:

She owns a youth hostel and a lot of her photography will be promo materials for it; food from the restaurant, guests at the bar, events at her place, and so on... mostly indoors, mostly at night.

This means low-light, something that I've noticed the Nikon sensors tend to outperform Pentax on. This may be different with the K7, I have no idea... thoughts? JPEG quality is more important, she's not the type to work with RAW... at least, not yet!


Kit lens:

She mostly shoots on the wide-normal end, portraits and indoor photography, but she will once in a while go on trips with her husband and daughter, where moderate tele range will come in useful.

The K7's kit lens is 18-55, which is just not as general-purpose as the 18-105 supplied with the D90. If she went with the K7, I'd have to either recommend she get body-only and spring for a 17-70 (still missing out on the long end) or a superzoom (drop in quality), or get the kit and a separate 55-200, which would raise the initial price by quite a lot.


Support:

EVERYONE around these parts uses either Nikon or Canon, so if she wants to borrow a lens or battery, ask for tips/tricks, and get something fixed, I get the impression it'll be much easier than with a Pentax, which would be a real boon to someone fresh to a DSLR system.

A friend dropped my K10 and cracked the body, he had to mail it halfway across the country to someone who had the parts and know-how to fix it. As far as I can tell there are only two official Pentax service centers in China, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing (she lives in neither). Places that service Canikon are a dime a dozen.


She's played with my K10 and a couple cameras that have come through her hostel by way of trigger-happy customers... a D90 among them... and her impression of the bodies is that they're all pretty much the same, she just thinks they're kinda big.

As far as size, she's looked at Micro four-thirds, she just hates that she'd be missing out on the benefits of a bigger sensor.

Anyway, if anyone has corrections to my thinking or any additional thoughts, I'd appreciate it! Thanks!

09-02-2010, 02:44 AM   #2
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The most significant downsides for me are the Pentax AF and flash exposures. Upsides are size, ergonomics, video, in-body stabilisation and so on...

But probably she'll use a lot the kit lens and onboard flash and also I can see that girls seldomly get LBA (and Pentax IS about LBA!!).

So in my opinion the D90 is a safer choice. Honest camera, good IQ, a bit of video, good all round kit and cheap primes still in production
09-02-2010, 03:02 AM   #3
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You made very solid suggestion to your friend. I'd do the same.
09-02-2010, 03:19 AM   #4
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I think the biggest benefits of the K7 plus a WR kit lens are the build quality. The D90 plus a 18-105 (which by the way has a plastic mount) are just not going to feel the same. At the same time, if she isn't an out doors person who would be shooting in various types of weather, she may not notice the difference.

High iso is definitely better on the D90 versus the K7, although I would bet that the K7 sequel will even that out considerably.

If your friend really wants to take a step up in image quality, she will likely need a prime and that is where Pentax definitely has some special options available.

09-02-2010, 03:35 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by yenemy Quote
As far as size, she's looked at Micro four-thirds, she just hates that she'd be missing out on the benefits of a bigger sensor.
Mirco 4/3rds is still plenty big enough, espescially for her needs. If she can compromise with APS-C, she can compromise a little more with m4/3rds.

Keep in mind all of the Olympus and Panasonic DSLR's (not just the micro 4/3rds ones) have a 4/3rds sensor, yet the Olympus E3 is still considered good enough for professionals.

Make sure she doesn't rule out any cameras which might be perfect for her needs, just because she is not well enough informed about the capabilities of the 4/3rds system.
09-02-2010, 05:22 AM   #6
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Why not a K-x; superb low light capabiltiy, inexpensive, compact, beginner modes, comes in pretty colours. Seems like a better match for her than K-7 or D90.
09-02-2010, 05:34 AM   #7
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I agree...
The K-x would do the job: Compact, amateur body, good at high ISO, cheap so room for better lenses.

For the other reasons you mentioned, the D90 rather than the K7.
09-02-2010, 05:34 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by yenemy Quote
I kinda feel like I'm letting down the side here, but a friend of mine here in China is looking to buy a DSLR.

She was quite happy with her Canon G10, but after seeing some portraits I took with my K10d + SMC Tak 50/1.4 she decided she wanted to upgrade her equipment and her skills/knowledge.

After thinking on it for a while, I recently recommended she go and buy a Nikon D90 rather than a K7. She's in no rush to buy, and I'm still thinking on it; figured I'd ask y'all for your input as well.

Here's my reasoning (sorry for the long post):


ISO Performance:

She owns a youth hostel and a lot of her photography will be promo materials for it; food from the restaurant, guests at the bar, events at her place, and so on... mostly indoors, mostly at night.

This means low-light, something that I've noticed the Nikon sensors tend to outperform Pentax on. This may be different with the K7, I have no idea... thoughts? JPEG quality is more important, she's not the type to work with RAW... at least, not yet!


Kit lens:

She mostly shoots on the wide-normal end, portraits and indoor photography, but she will once in a while go on trips with her husband and daughter, where moderate tele range will come in useful.

The K7's kit lens is 18-55, which is just not as general-purpose as the 18-105 supplied with the D90. If she went with the K7, I'd have to either recommend she get body-only and spring for a 17-70 (still missing out on the long end) or a superzoom (drop in quality), or get the kit and a separate 55-200, which would raise the initial price by quite a lot.


Support:

EVERYONE around these parts uses either Nikon or Canon, so if she wants to borrow a lens or battery, ask for tips/tricks, and get something fixed, I get the impression it'll be much easier than with a Pentax, which would be a real boon to someone fresh to a DSLR system.

A friend dropped my K10 and cracked the body, he had to mail it halfway across the country to someone who had the parts and know-how to fix it. As far as I can tell there are only two official Pentax service centers in China, one in Shanghai and one in Beijing (she lives in neither). Places that service Canikon are a dime a dozen.


She's played with my K10 and a couple cameras that have come through her hostel by way of trigger-happy customers... a D90 among them... and her impression of the bodies is that they're all pretty much the same, she just thinks they're kinda big.

As far as size, she's looked at Micro four-thirds, she just hates that she'd be missing out on the benefits of a bigger sensor.

Anyway, if anyone has corrections to my thinking or any additional thoughts, I'd appreciate it! Thanks!
I think there are a couple of things here to point out.

You said she liked your shots with the 50mm Tak on your K10D.

Point out that there are not a lot of nikon bodies that can even meter using their own old glass (I am not sure the D90 is one of them), and she can't put pentax lenses on a nikon and get infinity focus. If she wants to go out and play with older lenses, the only real alternative to pentax is a high end canon body, with pentax or nikon adaptors.

The K7 is a small camera, compared to the K10D or film bodies like the PZ-1. It is roughly the same size as the origonal *istD, but better egronomically, especially the grip.

As for shortcomings with flash, there are only a few times where these issues really limit the photographer, and unless you are into studio work, not really an issue. In that respect the nikon flash system is probably the best.

The real bottom line is that unless there are specific needs that absolutely demand some performance feature that pentax does not offer, ANY current production DSLR will take exceptional pictures, in the right hands, and poor ones in the wrong hands.

09-02-2010, 05:39 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by deltoidjohn Quote
Mirco 4/3rds is still plenty big enough, espescially for her needs. If she can compromise with APS-C, she can compromise a little more with m4/3rds.

Keep in mind all of the Olympus and Panasonic DSLR's (not just the micro 4/3rds ones) have a 4/3rds sensor, yet the Olympus E3 is still considered good enough for professionals.

Make sure she doesn't rule out any cameras which might be perfect for her needs, just because she is not well enough informed about the capabilities of the 4/3rds system.
Note that any 4/3 system either Micro or SLR will cost a small fortune in wide angle lenses.

A few years back, a friend was looking at DSLRS and liked the Olympus 4/3 system, until it came to looking at wide angle lenses.

He looked at my *istD and sigma 10-20mm lens, and to get the same FOV with a 4/3 system he was looking at a 7-14mm lens worth more than my sigma lens, plus a pentax body, plus a prime. So I showed him he could have 2 good lenses plus a body just for the price of one lens.

I hadhim sold on ASP-C, unfortunately, since he was a nikon shooter with film, he bought nikon to use his old lenses. Won the battle but lost the war.
09-02-2010, 08:04 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Note that any 4/3 system either Micro or SLR will cost a small fortune in wide angle lenses.

A few years back, a friend was looking at DSLRS and liked the Olympus 4/3 system, until it came to looking at wide angle lenses.

He looked at my *istD and sigma 10-20mm lens, and to get the same FOV with a 4/3 system he was looking at a 7-14mm lens worth more than my sigma lens, plus a pentax body, plus a prime. So I showed him he could have 2 good lenses plus a body just for the price of one lens.

I hadhim sold on ASP-C, unfortunately, since he was a nikon shooter with film, he bought nikon to use his old lenses. Won the battle but lost the war.
As true as that is, again we're not talking about a real serious hobbyist, and one of her observations was that DSLR bodies are "all about the same, and they were all big". Doesn't sound like a real gearhead.

It also show's she's concerned about size. The Olympus Pen cameras are not only very attractive (the metal ones especially), but they're compact and they are getting very good reviews.

This person needs to think hard about how much she's going to need zoom versus how much she's going to use Live View. If she's likely to be a Live-View user, DSLR live view AF is going to annoy the bejesus out of her. I'm confident that the E-PL1 would enable her to take pictures that are at least as good as a DSLR.

I agree that m4/3 is a tough system to buy into if you think you'll buy ANY additional lenses. Pentaxians like us will balk at how expensive the glass is. Laymen will balk because it doesn't have "25x optical zoom" like their Fuji P&S did. Still, I was almost sold on the PL1 but in the end I wanted the option to go telephoto without spending a fortune.
09-02-2010, 08:15 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ryan Trevisol Quote
As true as that is, again we're not talking about a real serious hobbyist, and one of her observations was that DSLR bodies are "all about the same, and they were all big". Doesn't sound like a real gearhead.

It also show's she's concerned about size. The Olympus Pen cameras are not only very attractive (the metal ones especially), but they're compact and they are getting very good reviews.

This person needs to think hard about how much she's going to need zoom versus how much she's going to use Live View. If she's likely to be a Live-View user, DSLR live view AF is going to annoy the bejesus out of her. I'm confident that the E-PL1 would enable her to take pictures that are at least as good as a DSLR.

I agree that m4/3 is a tough system to buy into if you think you'll buy ANY additional lenses. Pentaxians like us will balk at how expensive the glass is. Laymen will balk because it doesn't have "25x optical zoom" like their Fuji P&S did. Still, I was almost sold on the PL1 but in the end I wanted the option to go telephoto without spending a fortune.

Valid point.

Why not the new Sony a55? The specsare there, the live view and video implementation sounds very good, the ISO sounds great... what more to want?

You'll say the EVF is worse than OVF - yeah if you are coming from a classic DSLR but no if you were a P&S user. And the a55's EVF looks really good, resolution wise.
09-02-2010, 08:34 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by yenemy Quote
This means low-light, something that I've noticed the Nikon sensors tend to outperform Pentax on. This may be different with the K7, I have no idea...
Actually, you kind of have it backwards. In general, Nikon and Pentax use the *exact same sensors* - ones supplied by Sony. So assuming you compare bodies with the same sensor, then no, you won't find Nikon outperforming Pentax. However, the K-7 has a sensor made by Samsung tht Nikon doens't use in any of their cameras, and it is true thatthis particular sensor isn't as as good at high ISO as the one sensor in. K-x is another story entirely, though, and really, from everything you've said that seems the sensible choice to me.


QuoteQuote:
The K7's kit lens is 18-55, which is just not as general-purpose as the 18-105 supplied with the D90.
So with the money you save getting the K-x, get a longer zoom. There is basically no way someone fitting your friend's description would be likely to notice any difference in quality between any of these consumer zooms.

QuoteQuote:
EVERYONE around these parts uses either Nikon or Canon, so if she wants to borrow a lens or battery, ask for tips/tricks, and get something fixed, I get the impression it'll be much easier than with a Pentax, which would be a real boon to someone fresh to a DSLR system.
That's true pretty much everywhere in the world, but is a bigger issue some places than others. If this is a big concern, that would indeed be reason to go Nikon.

QuoteQuote:
her impression of the bodies is that they're all pretty much the same, she just thinks they're kinda big.

As far as size, she's looked at Micro four-thirds, she just hates that she'd be missing out on the benefits of a bigger sensor.
Hence the K-x recommendation.
09-02-2010, 07:52 PM   #13
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Side note: I actually met a Pentax shooter yesterday, woo! Random chance, was at a Starbucks working on some projects and he sat down with some friends. We randomly started talking about multimedia (our profession), then photography, and finally Pentax! I actually shook his hand, I was so glad to find another Pentax shooter here Sadly neither of us had our cameras with us; I still haven't had a chance to handle a K-7.


Thanks for those points everyone! I will ask her to take a look at the K-x as well... I had no idea it used a different sensor than the K-7.

I am still leery of the short kit lens compared to the D90; I think even with a couple of lenses, she will be frustrated at a) having to lug two lenses around, and b) having to switch lenses for different situations.

The 17-70 or 18-200/250s might work, but at a cost of either cash or IQ. For about 10% more than the price of a K-x + 18-55 + 55-300, she can get a D90 with 18-105, and I don't see her often wanting more tele length than 100 or so. I've been out of the LBA game for quite a while now; are there any good lenses out now in the 18-100ish range?

The fact the K-x has no visible AF points also seems like such a weird design decision to me, and certainly something she's gotten used to... big usability ding there.

I also just kind of like having two control dials... it seems much more natural and 'connected' to me.

I got the impression that the size issue wasn't all that important to her; in fact it might be a little bit of a positive, in that her husband would be less likely to poach the camera from her hot little hands
09-02-2010, 08:20 PM   #14
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You already received a lot of good advice. Let me add two comments:

* The size/bulk of the camera
The D90 is particularly big among all the dSLRs. In contrast, the Pentax dSLRs are smaller than average. The K-x is the smallest and the K-7 is just slightly larger.

If you friend has some small hands, the K-x or K-7 should be preferred. Personnally, I have medium sized hands and I prefer the grip of the K-7 over the K-x.

* Weigtht of the camera
A big difference between a P&S and a dSLR is the larger weight of the dSLRs:
- the D90 body weights 703 g (with battery)
- the K-7 body weights 670 g
- the K-x body weigth 515 g

Based upon weight, the K-x is the winner.


Ideally, in a better world, your friend should try the camera herself. However both the D90, K-7 and K-x are great cameras.

If the camera was for my wife, I would choose the K-x because it is very simple; the dial mode is close to a P&S; the K-x weight and size is also more friendly to a woman, in my opinion; and the colours are cute.


NB: I went myself through a similar choice for myself. I chose the K-7 ahead of the K-x and D90.

Last edited by hcc; 09-02-2010 at 11:06 PM. Reason: Typos
09-02-2010, 10:40 PM   #15
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+1 for the K-x or E-PL1

My friend gave his Chinese wife a D90 w/ 18-105 for Christmas. She NEVER uses it. Too big and too heavy she says (and she's 5'8"). On the other hand, if I leave my K-x on the table at an event, she'll pick it up and be firing off shots in no time!

The D90 is just not as much fun, and is less accessible than the K-x.

Regardless, I'd certainly wait until the Photokina dust has settled. Whether price or performance, there will be better options in a few weeks.
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